Molly Fader joins The Spotlight this week to discuss her latest novel, The Sunshine Girls
Author Name: Molly Fader
Book Title: The Sunshine Girls
Book Genre: Women’s Fiction/Historical Fiction
Release Date: December 6, 2022
Publisher: Graydon House
Welcome, Molly! Please tell us a bit about The Sunshine Girls.
The Sunshine girls is about two sisters who realize their mother isn’t who they’d always thought when a legendary movie star shows up at her funeral, unraveling a story of a friendship that begins at a
nursing school in Iowa in 1965 and onward as it survives decades of change, war, fame-and the secrets they kept for each other.
One reviewer called it: “The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo meets Beaches” and that describes The Sunshine Girls EXACTLY.
What sparked the idea for this book?
I had a bout of terrible insomnia a few years ago and I was trying all these different sleep aids in a desperate attempt to sleep more than three hours at night. And the sleep aids would give me the most amazing dreams. Like tiny little movies. One night I dreamt the opening scene of this book. Two estranged sisters at their mother’s funeral in a small midwestern town and into the funeral walks a star of stage and screen, a legendary icon (in my dream it was Meryl Streep) and tells the two sisters that they didn’t really know their mother. After that it was a matter of figuring out who those women were and I found all this inspiration in my mom’s life as a nurse.
How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you do any research?
The book was one of those dream books and it kind of unspooled for me every day. I knew the characters so well and there were enough secrets and twists to keep the words coming. So, writing it took, all in all, about four months. The editorial process after that has it’s own timeline. I have an amazing editor and we did a couple deep dives on the book – reworking the present day timeline and the ending several times.
I had to do a lot of research. Anytime you set a book in a different time period it’s a daily dash to Google to find out what songs were popular, what kinds of cars people were driving, what women were wearing etc…
Luckily, for the nursing school part of The Sunshine Girls my mother was an incredible resource. She went to Nursing school in Iowa in the late 60’s and so I could ask her about the details of school and working in hospitals. A lot of my mother’s stories are in the book.
For the Vietnam portion I had two incredible primary sources – Home Before Morning by Lynda Van Devanter and When I Die I’m Going to Heaven ‘Cause I’ve Spent My Time in Hell: A Memoir of My Year as an Army Nurse in Vietnam by Barbara Kautz.
These diaries were harrowing, funny, tragic, eye-opening and very crucial to The Sunshine Girls.
I read Hal Needham’s book: Stuntman! My Car-crashing, Plane-jumping, Bone-breaking, Death-defying Hollywood Life. Also incredibly illuminating and helpful for the Hollywood/Rex Daniels storyline.
What drew you to writing women’s fiction?
I’ve been writing romance for over twenty years and have wanted to write romance since someone handed me a Harlequin romance novel when I was probably too young. J So writing stories about women has been my whole career. However, as I’ve aged, I’ve found the relationships between women – friends, mothers and daughters, sisters – more compelling than relationships between men and women. Sex is great, but have you ever read a book where a daughter forgives her mother for all the secrets she’s kept over the years? J
Where can readers find you?
Yes! Come find me!
Instagram | https://bit.ly/3p2EM7T
I also have a podcast called Day Drinking With Authors. I pick a book, the author picks a drink and we discuss both! It’s a lot of fun – check it out wherever you listen to podcasts.
And More https://www.buzzsprout.com/1311937
Thank you, Molly! The Sunshine Girls is OUT NOW.
1967 Iowa. Nursing school roommates BettyKay and Kitty don’t have much in common. BettyKay has risked her family’s disapproval to pursue her dreams away from her small town. Cosmopolitan Kitty has always relied on her beauty and smarts to get by and to hide a painful secret. Yet the two share a determination to prove themselves in a changing world, forging an unlikely bond on a campus unkind to women.
Before their first year is up, tragedy strikes, and the women’s paths are forced apart. But against all odds, a decades-long friendship forms, persevering through love, marriage, failure, and death, from the jungles of Vietnam to the glamorous circles of Hollywood. Until one snowy night leads their relationship to the ultimate crossroads.
Fifty years later, two estranged sisters are shocked when a famous movie star shows up at their mother’s funeral. Over one tumultuous weekend, the women must reckon with a dazzling truth about their family that will alter their lives forever…